Wisdom from Walt Whitman

This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body…

This is stunningly insightful, sounding like something straight out of the Old Testament…perhaps the Book of Psalms. And I really was grabbed by the advice to “argue not concerning God” as I see so clearly now the foolishness of such argumentation. His point is relevant to an observation I read recently on an evangelical blog in which the pastor noted he had given up apologetics, realizing that the primary point had always been to prove that he was right and the other fellow was wrong! The need to convert or to win someone to our way of thinking runs the risk of amounting to nothing more than an effort to satisfy our ego’s desire to have the entire world see the world just as we do.

I really liked Whitman’s admonishment, “argue not concerning God.”  Now, I ask, “Why bother to argue?”  I now have firm, faith-based, confidence in God and have no need to argue for His existence.  In fact, arguing for God’s existence has a predicate of profound doubt of His existence; for, otherwise, why would you need to argue?  From my experience, the need to “prove” that God exists springs from a deep-seated existential doubt of my own existence.  It is almost as if I’m saying, “Hey, I am so insecure about my own existence that I must believe in a God who is “out there” and as I long as I can do so I will know that I exist.  The need to argue for His existence was always to prove that I was “right” and in compete disregard for the “Rightness” that was given me in the person of Christ.  But, argumentation always kept the matter within the realm of my ego, that dimension of the human heart which is what Jesus had in mind for us to escape with…and I paraphrase…his admonishment, “Get over yourself!”

Oh, sure, I understand the “transcendent” and “immanent” dimensions of deity…so, yes He is “out there” and “in here” but why sweat the issue if you really believe that?  I believe the message of Jesus was, “Chill out.  I gotcha covered.  Don’t sweat it.”  But that is not enough for guilt-ridden Christians who are still enslaved by the law that Jesus said he had fulfilled.

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